A multi-purpose, cylindrical thermal insulation test apparatus is used for testing insulation materials and systems of materials using a liquid boil-off calorimeter system for absolute measurement of the effective thermal conductivity (k-value) and heat flux of a specimen material at a fixed environmental condition (cold-side temperature, warm-side temperature, vacuum pressure level, and residual gas composition). The apparatus includes an inner vessel for receiving a liquid with a normal boiling point below ambient temperature, such as liquid nitrogen, enclosed within a vacuum chamber. A cold mass assembly, including the upper and lower guard chambers and a middle test vessel, is suspended from a lid of the vacuum canister. Each of the three chambers is filled and vented through a single feedthrough. All fluid and instrumentation feedthroughs are mounted and suspended from a top domed lid to allow easy removal of the cold mass. A lift mechanism allows manipulation of the cold mass assembly and insulation test article.